Weaving Glossary

~ Personalized

A is for Advance the Warp

Advance the Warp Move the warp forward by releasing the pawl on the ratchet on the back beam and winding it forward with the ratchet on the cloth beam. It seems counterintuitive to stop weaving and advance the warp every few inches, rather than weave as far as possible before advancing; however, I have found that my cloth has more consistent quality when I advance the warp frequently.

Anchor Pin Used with Texsolv cord to secure the cord for various uses. The nylon anchor pin has a button on the back and two little feet on the bottom. I like to think of them as little men. The button goes into a “hole” in the Texsolv cord, and the feet go into a hole in another device or part of the loom, such as shaft holders, lamms, and treadles.

Arrow Peg Used with Texsolv cord to secure the cord for various uses. The nylon arrow peg can be inserted through a hole in the cord to secure a loop. The arrow peg can also be used when a hole on a loom part is not the correct size for an anchor pin.

B is for Ball Winder

Ball Winder Tool that is used to wind yarn skeins into balls of yarn. A skein of yarn is opened and placed on a yarn swift. The ties that hold the skein are cut and the end of the yarn is placed on the post of the ball winder, which turns it into a ball of yarn. I have a manual ball winder and an electric ball winder. 

Band My Norwegian friend calls this a ribbonNarrow woven strip, from 1/4-inch to a few inches in width. Can be woven on any loom, but most of mine have been woven on my inkle loom or on my band loom. One of my very first inkle band projects was a pair of shoe strings for my (then) five-year-old. I keep a box of bands that I have woven over the years, that I turn to when I need a piece of trim, or a handle for a bag, or a tab for a handwoven towel, or a pretty cord to tie up a rolled handwoven rug.

Band Knife Tool that is used as a beater for the band loom, to beat in the weft. I have a Vävstuga band knife that has a wooden handle and dull metal blade. The weight of this band knife is perfect for getting a firm and steady beat. I also have a shaped band knife that I use with a rigid heddle. The weft is wound on an indented area of the handle, making a smooth and efficient way of placing the weft, and then beating it in place.

Band Lock Holds the band in place while weaving with a rigid heddle, and provides an easy way to advance the warp.

Band Loom I have a Swedish Glimåkra two-treadle band loom. It is made for weaving narrow bands, up to four or five inches in width. Because there is a back beam and front beam with ratchet and pawl, it can hold quite a bit of warp. I have done a seven-yard warp, but it will hold much more than that. Bands weave up quite a bit quicker on the band loom than on the inkle loom; therefore, my inkle loom has been feeling neglected ever since I acquired this band loom.

Band Loom Shuttle (see Shuttle, Band Loom)

Batten (see Pick-up Stick)

Beam, Back Squared crossbar at the back of the loom, over which the warp passes as it unwinds from the warp beam directly below it. Many a weaver will tell a story of forgetting to send the warp over the back beam. It is a mistake that makes the weaver groan, and usually happens only once. You can guess how I know.

Beam, Breast Squared crossbar at the front of the loom, over which the warp passes as it comes from the reed. I sit very close to the breast beam, and high on my bench, so that my elbows clear the beam. This posture is ergonomically healthy for my back and shoulders.

Beam, Cloth Front roller onto which the woven fabric is wound. This octagonal beam has a ratchet and pawl to tension the warp. I enjoy seeing the new cloth winding around this beam, but best of all is unrolling the fabric and cutting it off when the warp is finished.

Beam, Foot This beam acts as a foot rest, which my legs are thankful for. Besides that, it is also critical support for the structure of the loom. These Swedish looms are simple in concept, but extremely sturdy.

Beam, Knee The cloth passes over the knee beam before it rolls onto the cloth beam. The knee beam makes room for the weaver’s knees (if you are petite like me, that is a humorous statement).

Beam, Treadle The treadles pivot from a rod supported on this beam at the back of the loom. The rear-pivot treadles contribute to light touch treadling, which is very kind to my legs and feet.

Beam, Warp Back roller onto which the warp is wound. My Glimåkra looms have octagonal warp beams, with ratchet and pawl to tension the warp. The turning wheel reminds me of the skipper’s wheel my dad had on his sailboat.

Beam Cords Long Texsolv cords that extend from the cloth beam to the front of the loom, and from the warp beam to the back of the loom. The beam cords hold the tie-on bars, to which the beginning and the ending of the warp is attached. I attach the beam cords to the beams using the “Attached Continuous Cord” method, as described in Learning to Warp Your Loom, p. 17, by Joanne Hall.

Beaming The process of rolling the warp onto the warp beam. I prefer to do this single-handedly; though Swedish weaving tradition, I’m told, assumes you have helpers at this step.

Beat Placing the weft into position using the beater. The type of fabric being woven determines how firm or how light a beat is needed. Rugs require a very firm beat and loosely woven lace fabric requires a light beat. Consistency matters.

Beater The swinging frame at the front of the loom that holds the reed and is used to beat the weft into place. My Glimåkra Standard and Ideal looms have overslung beaters. Gaining a rhythm with the beater while throwing a shuttle takes the coordination of playing a grand musical instrument.

Beater Cradle The place from which the hanging beater pivots. There are three notches in the cradle on my looms which enable the weaver to move the beater back as the weaving progresses.

Belly Board (see Fabric Protection Board)

Block A group of threads that form a unit in a weave structure.

Bobbin Winder A tool for winding bobbins or quills. I have an electric bobbin winder, made by my husband, and a Swedish hand bobbin winder. Both of my bobbin winders are for winding quills, not bobbins, and have a slender shaft on which the quills fit.

Bout One of two or more groups of warp ends, measured and prepared for warping. A rule of thumb I use for the size of bouts is up to approximately 200 threads or 10 inches of width per bout.

Bubbling Placing the weft in waves across the warp. This is a way of adding length to the weft, which is needed in weft-faced weaves to prevent draw-in. It takes practice and experience to know just how much to bubble the weft–how high, and how frequent to make the waves/bubbles.

Butterfly Yarn that is wound into a small bundle, usually to be used as discontinuous weft, such as for tapestry or for weft inlay. I use butterflies to weave a transparency, a weft inlay technique. I wind the yarn in a figure eight between my thumb and pinky finger to make compact, small butterflies. For larger tapestries, I compile various strands of wool yarn for the butterflies to blend colors for the specific shades needed.

C is for Cartoon

Cartoon A drawn pattern that is used as a guide under the warp of a tapestry or transparency being woven. The cartoon can be as simple as outlines of shapes, or it can be as complex as a complete pictorial scene in full color.

Choke Tie Tight tie around the threads of a just-wound warp to keep warp threads from shifting before they are in place on the loom. I place a choke tie about every yard/meter along the length of the warp. I wrap the choke tie cord around the warp threads twice, and then tie it in a bow. Choke ties are removed during beaming.

Color and Weave Color stripes arranged in various ways in the warp and weft create pattern effects. This is often used with plain weave, making a simple weave have the appearance of something that is more complex.

Cottolin The Cottolin thread I use is 60% cotton, 40% linen, from Bockens in Sweden. Nialin is the Swedish name for Cottolin.

Countermarch Loom action in which each shaft is raised or lowered independently by using two sets of lamms connected by cords to one set of jacks at the top of the loom. Some shafts rise and some sink, which form the shed. My Glimåkra Standard loom has a vertical countermarch, and my convertible little Glimakra Ideal loom has a horizontal countermarch.

Counting Thread When winding a warp, this thread separates counted groups of warp ends, by sending one end of the thread over, and the other end of the thread under the counted group. I use a long choke tie as a counting thread. After the warp is wound and the counting has been checked and double-checked, I remove the counting thread (choke tie) and use it to tie the lease cross.

Cross (see Lease Cross)

Cutting Off After weaving as far as possible, the exciting moment arrives for the weaver to cut off the woven cloth from the last bit of the warp. I have also had a few times of cutting off prematurely. Sometimes it makes sense to cut off and start over to get a new beginning. Also, when weaving heavier items, such as rugs, I often cut off a rug or two at a time to prevent the cloth beam from getting too full.

D is for Deflected Double Weave

Deflected Double Weave Groups of threads (blocks) exchange layers in this double weave. There are two distinct layers of cloth, usually a light and a dark layer, that trade places with each other. Off the loom, the warp and weft threads relax, causing them to “deflect” and shift out of their straight lines.

Dent Space between the teeth in the reed through which thread is passed. The number of threads per dent will vary, depending on the project. Two ends per dent is common, but it is not unusual to sley one to four ends per dent.

Dice Weave A weft pattern float weave, sometimes referred to as a simplified monksbelt weave.

Double Binding (Dubbelbindning) is a type of double-faced weave that is used mainly for rugs and blankets. Two sets of weft are woven, and the wefts switch places on opposite sides of the woven article. When used for rag rugs, this makes a sturdy, double-thickness rug. Interesting block or stripe patterns can be created with this weave, from simple to complex designs.

Double Weave Two layers that are woven simultaneously. The layers can be woven together at one or both sides, or interlocked in between. If the layers are connected at one side, the result is a woven fabric that is twice as wide as the weaving width when it is unfolded.

Draft A diagram that represents how the heddles are threaded, how the shafts are tied to the treadles, and the treadling order to follow for a specific weave. It is the “map” for the weaving. Most of my projects have started as drafts from Swedish books, which I personalize. I have created a few drafts of my own, using weaving software. I have used a spreadsheet on my iPad to write out drafts, but lately I find I like simple graph paper the best.

Dräll A common Swedish term for block weaves that have a characteristic pattern of blocks. Woven in five-shaft satin, it makes a light-reflective damask fabric.

Draw Cord Used for raising pattern shafts and/or pattern units on a drawloom. For raising shafts, handles at the front of the loom are attached to the draw cords, which are attached to pattern shafts. For raising pattern units, draw cords are attached to single units of warp ends. I use small lanyard clips to attach the draw cords to pattern units, via lift heddles.

Draw Handle One of a series of small wooden handles on the drawloom. On the Myrehed shaft drawloom each small wooden handle at the front of the loom is attached to a pattern shaft with a draw cord. Pulling (drawing) a handle raises a pattern shaft.

Draw-in The natural pulling in at the selvedges that happens as weft threads cross over and under warp threads. If the selvedges pull in too much, warp ends may break. Excessive draw-in is prevented by using adequate weft. Using a temple while weaving also helps prevent excessive draw-in.

Drawdown The part of the weaving draft that shows the diagram of the cloth–a graphic representation of the interlacement of the warp and weft threads. In a Swedish draft, the drawdown is above the threading pattern.

Drawloom A loom with two sets of shafts–ground weave shafts, and pattern shafts. The pattern shafts are used to make patterns that are not possible on an ordinary loom. Putting a Myrehed drawloom bridge on top of my Glimåkra Standard loom, and adding an extension, made my loom into a drawloom.

Drawloom, Combination A shaft drawloom that is combined with a single unit drawloom. With a combination drawloom, the weaver can choose the shaft drawloom for repeating patterns, or the single unit drawloom for pictorial designs, or use both in the same project.

Drawloom, Shaft Handles at the front of the loom are attached to draw cords, which are attached to pattern shafts. Drawing (pulling) a handle raises a pattern shaft. My shaft drawloom has the capacity to hold fifty pattern shafts. Depending on the threading for the pattern shafts, the images in the weaving can be repeated, and symmetrical, or non-symmetrical.

Drawloom, Single Unit Draw cords are attached to single units of warp ends. Pulling a draw cord at the front of the loom raises a single unit of warp threads. This allows the weaver to incorporate limitless possibilities of pictorial designs in the weaving, including lettering. An image one can draw on graph paper can be woven on the single unit drawloom, depending on the number of pattern units in the warp.

Dressing the Loom Process of placing the warp on the loom. This includes beaming, winding on, threading the heddles, sleying the reed, tying on to the front tie-on bar, and tying up the treadles. Ready to weave!

Dukagång One of the art weaves from the Skåne region of Sweden. This can be woven as a laid-in technique over a plain weave ground, which is often weft-faced. It can also be woven by threading for the pattern. The floats in the pattern form warpwise stripes as the floats cross over the same number of warp ends throughout.

E is for End

End One warp thread. Of course, you need more than one end to do any weaving, so usually you will see this word in plural.

EPC Ends per centimeter, also known as Sett. The number of warp ends per centimeter.

EPI Ends per inch, also known as Sett. The number of warp ends per inch. The density of warp threads will make a difference in the hand, or drape, of the finished fabric. I choose the size of reed according to the planned ends per inch (epi). A 15-dent/inch reed, for example, sleyed two threads per dent, will give me 30 ends per inch (epi).

F is for Fabric Protection Board

Fabric Protection Board (Belly Board) A board that slips into the front of the breast beam. It acts as a protector for the fabric being woven as it comes around the breast beam, serving as a barrier between the fabric and the weaver. Only my Glimåkra Standard has a fabric protection board. My other smaller looms do not have one.

Fell The edge of the weaving where the last pick was beaten into place, and against which the next pick will be beaten. This is the line where woven cloth meets yet unwoven warp.

Finishing The final work that is done on a piece to complete it, usually after it is cut from the loom. Finishing treatments include repairing errors, securing warp ends, twisting fringe, washing, pressing, hemming, or adding embellishments like beads, embroidery, or crochet, to name a few. Many finishing techniques are done by hand, and can be a relaxing way to enjoy the feel of newly woven fabric between your fingers.

Float A warp or weft thread that passes over two or more threads. This can be an intentional element of a weave structure, such as in my “3-shaft twill with warp floats” towels. Floats can also be caused by errors, which are unintentional, of course. A little bit of needle weaving can usually correct these errors.

G is for Ground Weave

Ground Weave Background of a pattern weave, such as rosepath, overshot, or monksbelt. The ground weave is most often plain weave; but I have done monksbelt over weft rep ground weave.

Guide String A string measured to a specific length, to mark the path on the warping reel or warping frame for winding the warp. I have a collection of measured and labeled guide strings, in meters and in yards. The string I use is 12/6 unbleached cotton rug warp, also known as seine twine. I tie a loop on each end of the guide string, which I place on the beginning and ending pegs on the warping reel.

H is for Half-Heddle Sticks

Half-Heddle Sticks Used for saving a pattern shed. A stick or wooden slat has heddles, folded in half, that pass under selected warp threads. A series of the half-heddle sticks can be prepared and placed on the warp in front of the back beam. I used this method to weave monksbelt in an irregular arrangement for the front of a small handbag.

Halvdräll (Half dräll) One of the simplified drälls (Swedish block weaves), that has two blocks with short weft pattern floats.

Halvkrabba One of the art weaves from the Skåne region of Sweden. This is woven as a laid-in technique over a weft-faced plain weave ground. Halvkrabba has geometric patterns based on small square blocks of color.

Hatching Tapestry technique that makes horizontal lines with two adjacent colors. The two wefts move toward each other in one shed, and move apart in the next shed.

Header Tightly packed weft, often used at the beginning of and end of rugs and tapestry. This weft-faced weave keeps the rug or tapestry weft intact, and strengthens the edge of the woven article. I use 12/6 cotton rug warp for the header on rag rugs.

Heddle Polyester loop (Texsolv heddle), suspended on the shafts, has a central eye through which an individual warp end passes. I have only Texsolv heddles on my looms, with the exception of my inkle, which has string heddles. The number of heddles used varies depending on the width of the warp and the size of the thread. I have used as few as a dozen heddles for a narrow ribbon on the band loom, and as many as 2,760 heddles for warp rep weave on the Glimåkra 47-inch Standard loom.

Heddle, Lift Small heddle is looped around a pattern unit on the drawloom, which enables the lifting of a pattern unit with a single-unit draw cord. The draw cord is usually threaded through the lift heddle. I use small lanyard clips to clip the lift heddle to the draw cord.

Heddle, Pattern Long heddle with regular 1/2″ eye that is used for pattern ends on the drawloom. Warp ends are threaded through the heddles. When weaving, the weft passes through the warp ends wherever the pattern heddles are raised.

Heddle Bar (Heddling Bar) Sturdy wooden bar holds pattern shafts while dressing the drawloom.

Hemstitch Encircling warp ends with an extended weft thread or a supplemental thread to prevent weft from unravelling. I do the hemstitching while the article is on the loom. Normally, it is used at the ends of articles that will have fringe, and adds a decorative element as well.

Hook Bar On the Myrehed drawloom, single-unit draw cords are held down by wooden pegs on the hook bar, located at the bottom of the drawbridge frame.

Huckaback (Huck Lace) A tabby weave that has groups of floats at regular intervals. One variation of huckaback that I enjoy uses five shafts and five treadles, and has rich pattern possibilities.

I is for Ink the Warp

Ink the Warp Making marks on the warp to use as an outline or guide for tapestry weaving. I use a fine-point Sharpie to put dots on the warp that coincide with the cartoon underneath. Or, when weaving without a cartoon, I may mark the warp with a curved line or other shape to follow for the tapestry design.

Inkle Loom My husband built my inkle loom in the 1980’s after studying a handmade one that someone let me borrow. An inkle loom is used for weaving narrow bands. I have woven bands that became shoe laces, hair ties, belts, purse straps, towel loops, jacket trim, Christmas ornaments, little dolls, package ties, bookmarks, and more. And there are plenty of inkle bands that are still waiting to be used.

Inlay Supplementary weft that is placed into or over the ground weave. Weft inlay may go from selvedge to selvedge, or it may be added in short lengths, depending on the pattern. Rya knots are one example of an inlay technique.

J is for Jämtlandsdräll

Jämtlandsdräll (Crackle) Named for Jämtland, an area of Sweden where this weave is thought to have originated. A four-shaft block weave with pattern floats on a plain weave background. The threading order includes tie-down threads which reduces the size of the floats. This sturdy fabric can be woven in fine cotton and linen threads, as I experienced at Vavstuga, or in thicker Tuna wool threads, like I did for my autumn/winter shoulder wrap.

K is for Kuvikas

Kuvikas (Summer and Winter) Finnish word for pattern, the word is also used for this single two-tie unit weave. Often referred to as Summer and Winter, this structure has one pattern shaft and two tie-down shafts per block. Complex to describe, but not complicated to weave.

L is for Lace

Lace The effect achieved when warp and/or weft threads cross over two or more threads, creating an open or loosely woven area in the cloth, as in huckaback (huck lace). Usually, the lace effect is not fully visible until after washing.

Lamm Horizontal wooden rods below the shafts that attach the treadles to the shafts. On countermarch looms like mine, there are two sets of lamms — upper lamms and lower lamms.

Lease Cross (Porrey Cross) Warp ends are placed in an alternating sequence while measuring the warp. This enables the weaver to keep the correct arrangement of threads throughout the warping process.

Lease Sticks A pair of beveled slats that are inserted into the lease cross to maintain the correct order of the warp ends. The two slats are tied together through holes at each end so that the threads cannot escape, even if the lease sticks loose their balance.

Leveling String A string that adjusts all the tied-on bundles on the front tie-on bar to an even level. I use 12/6 cotton seine twine for the leveling string. The leveling string is tied securely through the hole at one end of the front tie-on bar, woven by hand under and over the tied-on bundles, tightened well, and then tied firmly to the other end of the front tie-on bar. This simple procedure, together with small tied-on bundles, makes it possible to eliminate the weaving of waste yarn for evening out the ends, in most cases.

Lingo A two-ounce U-shaped weight that is suspended from each pattern unit on the drawloom. At times, during active weaving they swing into each other and sound like lovely wind chimes.

M is for M’s and O’s

M’s and O’s (Sålldräll) Weave structure with two blocks of four or six threads each on four shafts. Especially after washing, the fabric pulls into little circles, with the ribbed sections curving around the plain weave blocks.

Meet and Separate Tapestry technique where two butterflies of yarn move toward each other or away from each other, instead of moving together in the same direction.

Monksbelt (Munkabälte) This pattern weave has a tabby ground weave that can be balanced or weft rep. Two blocks of pattern weft floats on four shafts are used to create traditional Swedish pattern designs.


O is for Ojo

Ojo Spanish for “Eye.” Tapestry inlay technique. Supplementary weft is placed in between picks of plain weave. I created birds in a small tapestry with ojos that covered just three warps.

Opphämta A pattern weave that can be woven on the drawloom. The ground weave is plain weave, with weft that is the same or similar thread as the warp thread. The pattern weft is usually double the thickness of the warp thread. This is woven from the back side, so I keep a mirror handy to view the right side, which is underneath.

Opposites The shafts work in pairs to weave opposites. One weft pick is followed by treadling the opposite shed for the next weft pick.

Overshot Four block pattern on four shafts with a plain weave ground.

P is for Pick

Pick (Shot) One inserted row of the weft thread. Fabric is created with a pass of the shuttle, repeated over and over again.

Pick and Pick In tapestry weaving, two colors of weft that are woven in alternating rows. This produces vertical stripes in the weaving.

Pick-up Individual, or groups, of warp threads are lifted, often with a pick-up stick, to create a pattern.

Pick-up Stick (Batten) Thin slat or stick used for picking up a pattern from the warp threads. The stick is tapered, and sometimes pointed, at one or both ends to be able to slip easily under the pattern threads.

Plain Weave (Tabby) The simplest weave structure. Each weft pick interlaces over and under each warp end. Colors in the warp and/or the weft, arranged in different ways, can produce a great variety of patterns and visual interest, even in this basic fabric structure.

Plattväv (Flat Weave) A weft pattern float weave, similar to monksbelt and dice weave.

Pre-Sley (See Spreading the Warp)

Profile Draft A shorthand version of a regular written draft. The profile threading draft can simplify threading by reducing the thread-by-thread draft to repeated segments.

Q is for Quill

Quill A paper or cardboard tube on which weft threads are wound for use in a boat shuttle. Paper, such as brown craft paper, can be cut into a circle (the diameter a little shorter than the size of the boat shuttle shank) and rolled around the bobbin winder shank to form a surprisingly sturdy, reusable quill.

R is for Reed

Reed A comb-like tool that fits into the beater, and spaces the warp threads evenly. The spacing of the threads in the reed determines the density of the weave. I have several sizes of reeds, from 6 dents per inch to 22.5 dents per inch. I also have a growing collection of metric reeds, which give even more options for finding the “perfect” sett.

Reed Hook (Sley Hook) A tool that has a hook that fits through the dents on a reed. The hook is used to pull ends through the reed dents. My reed hook has a wooden handle and metal hook. I have another reed hook that is smaller, plastic, has a hook at both ends, and fits right into the palm of my hand.

Rep Weave Warp-faced or weft-faced weave. Warp rep typically has a densely-sleyed warp, and often uses a thick and a thin weft. Spaced rep weave has a warp that is not as densely sleyed, and some of the weft shows through, so it’s a good option for rag rugs. Weft rep has a tightly-packed weft that covers, or nearly covers the warp.

Retaining Cord Cord that stretches across a bar and is tied at both ends of the bar. For shaft bars, the retaining cord secures the heddles on the shafts, which is especially useful when weaving a wide warp. A retaining cord can be used on the front tie-on bar to secure warp loops before beaming the warp, and as a leveling string to flatten the warp before weaving. I use a half-bow slip knot at each end because it is easy to untie, making these retaining cords re-usable. All my retaining cords are made from 12/6 cotton seine twine.

Rigid Heddle A wooden tool with slot and holes, used for weaving bands. I like to say that band weaving my “knitting,” since it is so portable and the whole project easily fits in a small bag. My husband has made a rigid heddle from Spanish Cedar, and another one from Walnut–beautiful tools to hold and use. I have another rigid heddle that has pattern slots, which makes it easy to pick up pattern threads.

Rigid Heddle Loom A frame loom that has a plastic rigid heddle with slots and holes. The weaver lifts and lowers the heddle to move the threads. The rigid heddle also serves to spread the warp, and is used to beat in the weft. Depending on the size, the loom may sit on a stand, or lean up against a table for weaving. My Beka 32″ rigid heddle loom gave me many years of weaving enjoyment. I now have a 35cm Glimåkra Emila rigid heddle loom, perfect for taking with me when I travel. I have added a 40cm Glimåkra Siru rigid heddle loom, with built-in double rigid heddle supports, also a perfect loom to take with me on camping travels.

Rosepath (Rosengång) The distinctive small diamond or rose-shaped patterns in the cloth are produced by the threading and/or treadling sequence in the draft. Rosepath can be woven in different structures, such as rosepath on opposites, or bound rosepath. I have also woven rosepath borders on towels and rosepath designs in rag rugs. The rosepath motif often appears in Scandinavian textiles.

Rya Inlay technique that forms knots over pairs of warp ends, producing a pile surface. I have made rya weavings with thick wool yarns, combination of wool and linen strands, and with short strips of fabric.

S is for Sample

Sample The practice of using the first part of the warp to verify that everything is working together as needed. I always plan on a minimum of 8 inches for sampling, but often add 18 inches or more to the warp because I enjoy trying out various weft options and treadling patterns. It feels like play time. I also check to see that the fabric density is what I want, check for threading and sleying errors, and make an overall assessment before beginning the actual piece.

Satin A weave with warp floats on one side and weft floats on the other. My five-shaft satin dräll towels are woven with ten shafts. The sheen of linen makes it a desirable thread for this cloth that naturally reflects light because of the floats.

Selvedge (Selvage) The warp’s edge threads where the weft turns, making the woven side edges. Weaver’s care about their selvedges the way most people care how their hair is behaving before leaving home. A good selvedge is a sign of a good weaver. On the other hand, many beginning weavers pay too much attention to their selvedges, which can have an adverse effect. Eventually, practice pays off and good selvedges just happen, right?

Sett The number of warp ends per measuring unit–inches or centimeters, also known as EPI or EPC. The sett is the density of warp threads per inch; as such, it is one of the key factors for producing fabric that works as designed for a specific use.

Shaft Two rods with heddles hung between them. The shafts are suspended by cords from the jacks in the countermarch at the top of the loom. My Glimakra Standard loom has twelve shafts (12 pairs of rods); I have used as few as two shafts, and as many as twelve. My convertible Glimakra Ideal has four shafts, and there is no shortage of beautiful weaves you can create on just four shafts.

Shaft, Ground The drawloom has two sets of shafts. The ground shafts are the usual shafts that are directly behind the beater, in front of the pattern shafts. The threading of the ground shafts determines the structure of the cloth, such as broken twill, 5-shaft satin, or 6-shaft irregular satin.

Shaft, Pattern The drawloom has this second set of shafts for the pattern heddles with the pattern warp ends. The pattern shafts barely rest on the long pattern shaft holders that hang on each side of the loom, behind the ground shafts. Each pattern shaft is attached to a drawcord the ends with a small wooden handle at the front of the drawbridge. Pulling a handle raises that pattern shaft.

Shaft Holders Upper shaft bars sit in the holders, while the lower shaft bars hang in the bottom of the heddles. I use shaft holders while dressing the loom.

Shed The opening between raised and lowered warp threads, where the weft passes through. Perfect sheds make me very happy.

Shuttle Tool that holds the weft thread or yarn, carrying it from one side of the weaving to the other. I have a variety of boat shuttles, stick shuttles, ski shuttles, inkle shuttles, and band loom shuttles. Each kind serves a purpose. I’ve used them all at one time or another.

Shuttle, Band Loom This little wooden tool holds the weft thread, which is wound directly onto the shuttle. The shuttles I have were hand-carved by my husband, modeled after an old Glimåkra shuttle that Joanne Hall showed us. Holding it with my left hand, keeping my thumb above the warp threads, I pass the little shuttle back and forth in rhythm with the changing shed and beating in of the weft.

Shuttle, Boat A shuttle that looks like a little boat. The boat shuttles I use have a thin shaft for using a quill for the weft. The weft thread on the quill unwinds in the shuttle as it travels across the warp. Boat shuttles come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Most of my boat shuttles are traditional Swedish shuttles.

Shuttle, Double Bobbin This boat shuttle holds two separate bobbins that empty simultaneously when passed through the shed. It enables the weaver to combine two weft colors, and/or to double the thickness of the weft. I have wound a single bobbin with two threads, but with this double bobbin shuttle the threads are much less likely to twist around each other in the shed.

Shuttle, Ski A shuttle with upturned ends that is used for weaving rugs. My husband crafted a beautiful cherrywood ski shuttle for me. It is beautiful to the eyes and to the touch. I usually wind about a five-yard length of fabric strip on my ski shuttle when weaving a rag rug.

Shuttle, Stick  A flat stick that has cut out ends, around which yarn can be wound. I have several hand-made stick shuttles in various lengths for weaving on the rigid heddle loom. Some are made from yardsticks that have been cut to size. A stick shuttle can also come in handy for pushing a shorter weft across the shed in a floor loom.

Skeleton Tie-up A tie-up which allows more than one treadle to be pressed at a time, expanding the use of available treadles. This may be used when a weave structure requires more treadles than are on the loom. Normally, on a countermarch loom, treadles are tied to sinking shafts and rising shafts, making it infeasible to press two treadles at once. Strategically omitting some of the shafts in the tie-up make it possible to press two treadles at the same time. My kuvikas project uses a skeleton tie-up.

Sley Pulling the warp ends through the reed using a thin, flat tool made for this purpose, called a sley hook. This spaces the threads evenly across the width of the warp.

Smålandsväv This Scandinavian weave has weft pattern floats on a plain weave background. I have been enthralled with this exquisite weave structure ever since I saw Becky Ashenden’s Smålandsväv coverlet, which was stitched to gorgeous, fluffy sheepskin. In Vävstuga’s More Swedish Classics, we wove this structure in all linen, with stunning results. This structure has some similarity to Opphämta, but without the pick-ups. Special set up is required for the loom, as this weave structure requires one set of shafts for the ground weave and another set of shafts, using long-eye heddles, for the pattern weave.

Soumak A hand-manipulated technique used in tapestry weaving to make an outline that follows a curved or straight line. Weft thread crosses over a certain number of warp ends, and then wraps around one or two warp ends. This makes a slightly raised line that can go from selvedge to selvedge. On my tapestry/inlay sampler, the soumak weft goes over three warp ends, and wraps around one.

Spaced Rep Weave (see Rep Weave)

Spreading the Warp (Pre-Sley) Before beaming the warp, the ends must be evenly spread out to the desired weaving width. I spread the warp through a reed. This can be done at a table before taking it to the loom. However, I usually set the lease sticks and reed on support sticks on the loom, and spread the warp right there at the back of the loom.

Square the Pattern The practice of weaving a motif with sides that are equal in height to the width of the motif. Often, this consideration is necessary when weaving with a tabby and a pattern weft. The weaver must determine how many pattern wefts are needed to make the motif pattern square. Another factor to keep in mind is possible differences in the width and height after the cloth is cut from the loom, and washed and dried. Sampling is a good idea!

Straight Draw Shafts that are threaded in sequential order; i.e., heddles are threaded 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, etc., or 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8, etc.

Swift Tool that holds a skein of yarn while it is being wound off into a ball. The swift rotates around a central rod so the yarn winds off smoothly. My old Beka swift had a flat wooden base and four slanted posts to hold the yarn. Except for a few yarn tangles, the Beka swift worked well. My Glimåkra umbrella swift, made from Swedish birch, opens and closes like an umbrella, making it adjustable to hold various sizes of skeins. I’ve never had yarns tangle on the Glimåkra swift. It’s a fascinating contraption that I call the “Cool Tool.”

T is for Tabby

Tabby (see Plain Weave) Ground weave for a pattern weave, such as overshot or monksbelt, or for rosepath, as in rosepath rag rugs. Tabby refers to the plain weave the comes between the picks of the pattern weave.

Tapestry Weaving technique that enables geometric or pictorial designs through placement of discontinuous weft. I have tapestry frame looms for weaving small tapestries, including one, the size of an iPad, that I use for weaving when I travel. I weave larger pictorial tapestries on my floor looms, using special techniques I learned from Joanne Hall.

Taqueté Weft-faced compound tabby structure that is woven with a unit-threading system, a repetitious treadling order, and a double pass of four weft picks to create two-block, two-color patterns. This uses the same tie-up draft as Summer and Winter, with a different treadling pattern.

Temple (Stretcher) Adjustable wood or metal tool that holds the warp out to its full width during weaving. Sharp points at the ends of the temple, set into the selvedge threads, hold the fabric in place. Moving the temple frequently as the weaving progresses helps to maintain consistent fabric quality.

Texsolv Cord A polyester cord with uniform openings. The openings are used to secure the cord without tying knots. Instead of knots, nylon anchor pins or arrow pegs are inserted into the openings to hold the cord in place.

Threading Inserting the warp ends through the eyes of the heddles. The warp ends are distributed in a precise order to arrange the ends sequentially through the heddles on the shafts. I have threaded a simple 1 2 3 4 (known as straight draw), repeated across the width of the warp; and I have threaded a complex sequence that required intense concentration to avoid threading errors. Fortunately, threading errors can be corrected. Unfortunately, most threading errors are not discovered until the first few inches of fabric have been woven — that’s not the fun part.

Thrums The thread that is left at the end of the warp after weaving as far as possible. If I can find a good use for these “leftover” threads, I may start saving some of them.

Tie-on (see Tying On)

Tie-on Bar There is a tie-on bar at the front for the cloth beam and at the back for the warp beam. The warp is attached to back tie-on bar as part of the warping process. After the warp has been wound on the warp beam, threaded through the heddles, and sleyed through the reed, the warp ends in front of the reed are evenly tensioned and tied on to the front tie-on bar.

Tie-up Connecting treadles to shafts with cords. This determines which shafts rise and which sink as each treadle is stepped on.

Transparency Weaving that has a loosely woven background (transparent), and a pattern made with weft inlays, often forming geometric or pictorial designs.

Treadle Foot pedal that lowers or raises the loom’s shafts. My Glimåkra Band Loom has two treadles; the Glimåkra Ideal has six treadles; and the Glimåkra Standard has ten treadles. The number of treadles used varies depending on the weave structure. I love dancing the treadles. On the big loom (the Standard), I often pretend I’m playing a big church organ.

Twill A weave structure which produces a pattern of diagonal lines in the fabric. The diagonal lines form because the interlacement point, where warp meets weft, travels one warp thread over, to the right or to the left, for every weft. A common twill fabric is denim.

Twill, Goose-Eye A twill weave with a distinctive diamond pattern, created by a treadling sequence that reverses itself midway, e.g., 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, etc. Goose-eye is my favorite twill weave.

Twining Two or more wefts that alternately go over and under the warp ends and twist around each other between warps. A row or two of weft twining is often added at the start and at the end of a woven item, especially a rug. I often add twining at the start and end. It is the best thing I have found to secure the wefts, keeping them from wiggling out of place when I cut the warp from the loom. Twining also provides a firm beginning that makes it possible to beat the weft in securely right from the start.

Twining, Countered Working two rows of weft twining simultaneously, which gives design possibilities if two colors are used.

Tying On Groups of threads are tied onto the front tie-on bar (1 inch/2.5 cm groups). This is when I am very particular about the tension of the warp. I aim to get consistently-even tension across the warp, so I constantly check each group of threads by pressing on them lightly, re-tying any that are too loose or too tight in relation to the rest of the warp.


U is for Unit

Unit The smallest group of threads that interlace in a weave structure. For drawloom weaving, warp ends are separated into these units, and the weft is also woven in units; i.e., 5-shaft satin has units of 5 warp ends, and 5 passes of the weft.

Unit, Single A group of threads that is raised in a single unit drawloom. Each unit of threads can be lifted independently of each other, using the single unit draw cords.


W is for Warp

Warp The lengthwise threads in a weaving. The weaver carefully plans, measures, and counts (and counts, and counts) these threads, and arranges them in a specific order to be able to produce a pre-determined type of cloth. As a verb, to warp the loom means to put the warp threads on the loom.

Warp Chain Warp bout is chained as it is removed from the warping reel. Chaining the warp is like doing a massive crochet chain, using your hands instead of a crochet hook.

Warp-faced A weave structure where only the warp threads show on the surface, and the weft is completely covered. This is accomplished with a tightly woven warp, which is densely sett. An example of a common warp-faced weave is warp rep weave. Also, most woven bands are warp-faced.

Warping Board Rectangular frame with inserted pegs that are spaced around the frame. The warping board is used for measuring, or winding, a warp. I prefer using the warping reel to wind my warps, so my trusty warping board is now in the hands of a new eager weaver.

Warping Reel (Warping Mill) Tool for measuring, or winding, warp. I started with a second-hand 2-yard circumference Schacht warping reel that sits on a table top. I now use a 2 1/2-meter Glimåkra warping reel. Most of my warps are from eight to ten meters (9 – 11 yards) long.

Warping Slat (Warp Stick) Thin wooden slat that is inserted between the warp and the warp beam, and between subsequent layers of warp while beaming the warp.

Weft The crosswise threads in a weaving. The weft can be thrown across in a boat shuttle, handed across in a stick or ski shuttle, or placed in patterns by hand. I have used various materials for weft — thick wool yarn, thin cotton thread, linen thread, new cotton fabric cut into narrow strips, and assortment of upcycled cloth cut into strips.

Weft-Faced A weave structure where only the weft threads show on the surface, and the warp is completely covered. One of my favorite projects at Vävstuga Classics was Rosepath on Opposites, which is a weft-faced weave.

Weft Rep Plain weave, or tabby, in which the weft very nearly covers the warp. This is often used as a dense background (ground weave) for a pattern weave, such as Monksbelt.

Wet Finish The washing and care of the fabric after it is cut from the loom. Many fabrics wait to show their true character until after they get wet.

Winding a Warp Measuring the warp to prepare it for the loom. I wind the warp with two threads together, sometimes more, which helps prevent the threads from tangling during the warping process.




The terms and techniques used for handweaving make up a distinct set of words, as if it is a language all its own. Just like any verbal or written language, there are dialects and variations of usage according to locale, tradition, culture, and preference. I am writing from my limited experience and understanding of the terms with which I am familiar. Please consult some of the many books and resources available to find other authentic meanings and uses of these terms.

13 thoughts on “Weaving Glossary

  1. Thank you so much for detailed information. It is very helpful. But I need to translate header into Russian and trying to understand what the header is. Is header kind of weave?

  2. Thanks so much for your glossary. Very well done. I was trying to get a sense of what my ancestor would have done in his occupation as a “linen warper.” This was in Belfast in the earlier 1800s. Later, his grandson was a power loom tenter.

    Again, thank you. Beautiful website.

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